HomeHome Updates: Tips & IdeasDecorating Ideas and How To's10 WAYS to Make a High-Ceilinged Room Look Cozier

10 WAYS to Make a High-Ceilinged Room Look Cozier

Posted on December 18, 2023 by KylieMawdsley
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission.


While a high ceiling might seem like a great idea, not everyone loves this particular architectural feature. As for my own home (with its vaulted ceiling), I can add alllll the sugar I want, but my high ceiling still isn’t my cup of tea.


I love a cozy home. A high ceiling makes it harder to create an intimate, inviting space. Impossible? No, but it’s not nearly as easy as a room with 8, 9, or 10-foot ceilings.

Of course, many would disagree – there are those whose high ceilings are the high point of their home. But at the end of the day, what you love for your home is personal.

living room, rustic mountain style home, wood beams, wood trim, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray paint color on walls. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Sit down and listen to your space. Consider its pros, cons, and steps you might take to make your home feel a little more homey.

Listen to your space, but if it actually starts talking to you, drink less wine.

So, because it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart (right up there with Ryan Reynolds (or Gosling, Cornuts, and wine), I’m sharing 10 ways you can make your room with its overly high ceiling look a little less scary.



Installing a piece of molding at approximately 9 feet is a great way to draw a false ceiling line. While the height you install this molding depends on other features in your space, there’s usually a spot where this molding ties into another area, or clearly and easily defines the lower/upper halves of your wall. This piece of trim is usually painted trim color, and the more modern look is to have the walls above/below painted the same color.

If this molding were on a large wall on your exterior, it would be called a belly band, which works for this application too.

Orange hue oak flooring, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray, greige taupe paint color on walls, south-facing dining room, chair rail. Kylie M Interiors edesign client BEFORE photo

This waist-level molding is a chair rail and isn’t a feature in today’s modern home

Is this like a chair rail? HECK NO. Chair rails from the 1990s are NOT a modern approach. But like a chair rail, this molding divides your wall horizontally. At this raised height, it’s used more for illusion than as a decorative feature.

In this living room shown below, notice how the simple horizontal molding above the artwork gives the illusion of shorter walls/lower ceiling and a cozier space…

Living room, tall ceiling, vaulted, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray best greige and White Dove. Sherwin Urbane Bronze painted stair railing. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, DIY Decorating, color ideas (1)

9 feet makes sense in this livingroom as it ties into the stair trim

Now, check it out when I erase that piece of trim…


Notice how much higher the walls look and taller the ceiling seems with the molding removed. FRIGGIN’ COOL, EH?

Let’s do a side-by-side for an easier comparison…

before and after, ideas to make a high ceiling look lower and cozier. Living room, neutral off white walls, sectional.

Here’s another example of a horizontal band (in a much fancy schmancier home than mine)…

Sherwin Williams Natural Tan, living room wood beams, vaulted ceiling, fireplace, beige sectional, dark wood floors. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting

The Best Modern Beige & Tan Paint Colors


  • The stair railings are horizontal rather than vertical. While the angle has your eye traveling up, it’s more subtle than perfectly vertical spindles.
  • The artwork above the fireplace is horizontal in size and style.
  • I might tweak the decor on the sofa table to have a bit more linear (horizontal) flow.
  • The horizontal wood detail ties into the beams on the ceiling (a topic we’ll be chatting about shortly).
  • The sectional and two chairs aren’t too low profile – they suit the scale of the space.
  • Replacing the light-colored throw blanket with a darker one would help keep your eye lower without weighing the space down (as the floor is already so dark).
  • They could add cushions to the sectional with horizontal stripes.
  • The top shelf of the built-ins is shorter than the two shelves below it – even a detail like this makes a huge visual difference when you have a high ceiling!



This idea is not for the faint of heart, and it’s one that I’m currently saving my shekels for. However, a high ceiling clad in wood (even painted wood) or a few well-positioned beams looks way more inviting than nude drywall.

While this next room is still getting dressed and the ceilings aren’t SUPER high, the effect of the beams is still obvious – they add a more inviting, cozier vibe…

Painted tim in warm gray greige Texas Leather. Walls best off white beige, Aesthetic White. dark wood ceiling beams. Kylie M Online paint color consulting

Here’s another shot of the same space…

Aesthetic White walls, beige offwhite, Iron Ore on built-ins with grass cloth, Texas Leather warm gray greige trim, wood beams, brick beige fireplace, stone mantel. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Color Review of Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White

Even a single beam in the center of a tall, cathedral-style ceiling brings the visuals of a space down…

Living room, gray stone fireplace, round wheel chandelier, white built in bookcases, Stonington Gray paint colour. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color expert

Color Review of Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray

Mountain contemporary style bedroom. Sherwin Williams Balanced Beige neutral. Kylie M Interiors E-design, wood furniture, (2)



A tall plant is a great way to draw your eye up, but have it stop at a more natural level – it kind of puts a cap on things. But not everyone can keep plants alive (I struggle, although I have a few beasts that have lasted). If your green thumb is a little more brown, there are great fake trees on the market, including…

  • olive trees
  • fiddle leaf figs
  • dracaena
  • ficus (which I have)

Living room, vaulted ceiling, fireplace, neutral transitional style home decor and furniture. Sherwin Williams Alabaster warm white, Kylie M Interiors, Jenna Christian

Replace this fig with a shorter plant and the effect will be way different!

Another important thing to remember is that how a room looks can be based on PERCEPTION. For example, my living room (previously shown) is way too open for me. I wish I had a 9′ ceiling. However, I have friends who think my living room is the coziest in our home, regardless of the ceiling – that’s their perception!

Take these tips as inspiration to find what feels good to YOU! 



When considering patterns and the shape of items in your room, think horizontally rather than vertically. Of course, you don’t want EVERYTHING to be horizontal, but key decorative and functional pieces can be horizontal, to encourage your eyes width-wise, rather than height-wise.

The same goes for my booty. When I want to glorify its width, I wear horizontal stripes. When I want to look leaner and taller, I wear vertical stripes. Needless to say, I ALWAYS opt for horizontal. TMI? Never.

Let’s look at some specifics…



Consider pieces of art and mirrors that are horizontal, not just in size, but the image itself is horizontally-inclined…

Primary bedroom, Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White, best off-white beige paint color on walls, White Dove trim and ceiling, white linens, toss cushions, wicker lamp, ikea side tables, Kylie M Edesign (2)

  • This artwork (above) is horizontal in size and style.
  • The long linear black frame of the bed draws a strong, clear horizontal line.
  • Along with a solid toss cushion in a grounding color, there’s a horizontal stripe as well as a low, long cushion.

This next bedroom has taller than-average ceilings…

Dunn Edwards Faded Gray similar to Benjamin Moore Silver Satin, off white warm gray, primary bedroom, home staging ideas, blue accents, rug on wood

Notice how the linear art above the headboard keeps things a bit more horizontal, as does the style of the light fixture, drapery rod, and even the row of three dark toss cushions!



A patterned fabric, either on toss cushions, furniture, or drapes, is another great way to make a room with a high ceiling look cozier.

This next photo shows the open-concept living area at our lake home. Most of the ceilings are 9′ high, but are 10′ in the living room, creating a quasi-tray ceiling. Originally, we’d planned on installing beams in this area to make it feel more intimate. However, with the building process being such a gong show, I gave those up, just so we could move on with life…

Open concept living room, kitchen, dining room, raised 10 foot ceiling, oak wood floor and open railing, blue accents. BEnjamin Moore White Dove walls, cabinets, trims, Kylie M Interiors


  • The toss cushions on the sofa have a horizontal stripe.
  • While the striped accent chairs have vertical stripes, the loose cushion on them is placed horizontally. If I come in the room and someone has placed them vertically, I twitch and cry in the corner. Then I make them horizontal again.
  • Don’t mind the pile of patio cushions in the far right top corner.
  • The oar artwork has a vertical frame, but the oars are decidedly horizontal.
  • The chandelier brings the sight-line down a bit lower and adds intimacy.
  • All of the furniture pieces are average height – not super high, but not low-profile (although I bit higher wouldn’t hurt, there’s also a lake view to consider).



It’s not always about the fluffy stuff. There are some more ‘solid’ choices you can make that can keep your space looking a bit more grounded…

Contemporary open layout kitchen, living room, dining room. Modern tile fireplace dark wood floors. Gray painted walls Cambria Quartz countertop. Kylie M Interiors Decorating and Design Online

  • The fireplace is super linear, as is the floating hearth.
  • I love the pendant lights and their graphic horizontal look. The black shades also ground the space, offering a moody ambiance.
  • The fireplace tile COULD be horizontally shaped if the owner WANTED to encourage a lower look. Instead, the 30″ square format offers a great balance (and is WAAAY better than a vertical tile).
  • The striking teal accent stools grab your eyes, and keep you focused on this room’s lower half.
  • Notice the yellow vase. While it looks great (as the point WASN’T to lower the look of the ceiling), notice how it passive-aggressively encourages your eyes to look up!

This next lovely living room (one can dream) is a great example of using horizontal fixtures and design choices to balance out a high ceiling…

Living family room walls in Benjamin Moore White Dove, vaulted wood frame beam ceilings, fireplace with tv above, soapstone surround, wood floor. Kylie M Interiors Edesign.

Although I might paint/blend in the brackets on the wood beams.

In this next staircase with its soaring ceiling, the dark-colored stair trim, dark carpet stair runner, and metal spindles help balance the focal point/landing wall so that the space feels intimate but well coordinated…

Spanish or tuscan style entrywy and staircase, iron railings and chandelier, off-white beige walls, Aesthetic White, Greige painted trim (warm gray). Kylie M ONline paint color expert

If the above space had nickel or chrome fixtures, glass railings, and white oak steps, the effect would be opposite.

Sometimes it’s not about OVERTLY bringing the sightline down; it’s about not OVERGLORIFYING a high ceiling. 



The right paint color(s) is a great way to make your high-ceilinged room look a bit more inviting. Aside from choosing a color that suits your finishes and furnishings (if you’re struggling, I can help), consider the temperature and depth of your color and how they can affect how your room looks.


When it comes to color psychology, cool colors recede; warm colors advance. As for depth, light colors recede, and dark colors advance. And while some of that can be open to perception (especially dark colors), consider painting your room a warm paint color.

Benjamin Moore Alpaca, warm beige paint color for a room with a high ceiling. alcove above tv and warm, Tuscan style home decor

Benjamin Moore Alpaca is a bit too warm for today’s modern home (but you do you, boo!)

For the goal of making your space look cozier, it’s usually ‘the warmer the better’. However, overly warm shades aren’t always on-trend; sometimes you need to find a happy medium, including muted warm colors, as shown below…

Edgecomb Gray, Sherwin Pure White trim, living room great room, vaulted ceiling, taupe sofas, white built ins, area rug, arched window. Kylie M Interiors edesign

Paint Color Review of Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray

Open concept entryway and living room, beige tile floor, cream furniture, Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White off-white beige paint color on walls. Travertine look. Kylie M Interiors

Paint Color Review of Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White

While the above two rooms could benefit from even more warmth and depth (if the goal is to make them look cozier), the chosen colors are better than gray.

This next living space has a modest but reasonably modern warmth offered by Sherwin Williams Casa Blanca

Painted maple kitchen with warm w

The 13 Best Cream Paint Colors



Most homes can handle white lower walls & colored upper walls, thanks to wainscoting and board and batten. However, not every style of home can pull off a two-COLOR palette.

White LG Quartz countertop, open layout kitchen and living room. Gray stone fireplace, Stonington Gray paint on walls, gray sectional. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint blogger and consultant



These next photos are of another of our previous homes (I get bored every four months years so we’ve had a few homes). Our foyer had 18′ ceilings and an awkward foundation wall that bumped out. Here’s how the entryway looked when we first viewed our home (woooooof)…

entryway foyer before painting and removal of doorway

Although the colors were warm, they did nothing for this space and weighed it down. Also, notice how the large canvas thing draws your eyes UP (and is awkwardly plain)…

1990s entryway before being updated

The horizontal pine board stuck above the door isn’t quite what I was referring to earlier…

You might think that lighter, brighter walls would draw your eyes up – not always! With proper grounding, using color, decor, and texture, the entryway looks way more homey and inviting…

Entryway, Kylie M E-design, online color consultant. Benjamin Moore Steel Wool, Creamy, black interior front door, red and navy accents


  • The striking red area rug grounds the room
  • Painted black front doors create a strong focal point at a standard level
  • The artwork is long and linear in size and style

And we didn’t just change the pretty stuff. Previously, the pony wall going up the stairs made the entryway feel even more like a funnel. We removed this wall and replaced it with a railing…

Before entryway and stairwell remodel

Adding the wood railing makes it feel more expansive horizontally and the flow is better between the two levels…

2 storey entryway, foyer with curved stair rail, wood and black metal, Sherwin Williams Creamy on walls. Kylie M Interiors edesign, virtual design consulting

I want to expand on this idea a bit more, but here’s the deal – I don’t ‘borrow’ other Creator’s photos for my blog.


Because even though I would include a link to their site or a few lines of text, readers RARELY click on that link. This means I’m using their photos for my gain, which ain’t cool.

I only use photos from my Online Color Consulting clients and readers. 

The best way to support other creators is to provide a LINK ONLY and make you curious to visit THEIR site to check it out (as long as you always come back to me – wink wink).

Some of these links show a two-color palette; others show the use of moldings, white paint, and an additional color.

  • Check out this cozy living room (loooove me a dark paint color!). However, the color freak in me would LOVE to tweak that upper wall color to be a bit more muted. Another reason I love this home is because it’s approachable. So many images on Instagram, Pinterest, and Houzz aren’t suited to the average homeowner, which is another reason why I usually stick to using my own. By the way, if you love real homes, FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM!
  • A gorgeous home office with a wood-paneled high ceiling (under the project SANTA TERESA)
  • Click here and find the image of the dining room (9th photo down). Notice how they divided the walls at approximately 10 feet, and further encourage your eyes width-wise with horizontal shiplap.
  • I love the use of moldings to define the lower walls and the classic shade of gray on the upper walls in this living room. Both of these have this space looking cozier than it would without.
  • This one goes to Pinterest as I can’t find the exact photo on the original site.



While I love this next living room and the color on the walls (Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray), the drapes could be hung about 10-12″ lower, rather than lined up with the bottom of that molding. This would help the room look cozier and feel a bit more balanced (but seriously, I still love this room)…

Living room, tall windows and ceilings, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, best greige paint colour on walls, oak floor, taupe neutral sofa. Kylie M.

Mind you, I wouldn’t want to hem drapes either.

And remember, not all of my client’s homes (shown in these photos) necessarily want to make their rooms with high ceilings look cozier. I just use these photos as examples of what you COULD do!

As for this next living room, the drapes elongate the walls, making the ceiling look even higher…

living room south facing, Navajo White Benjamn Moore greige furniture. Before Kylie M E-design

This look also makes the furniture look not as proportional to the space, as the drapes seem oversized.

In this next cozy living room, the drapes are hung at a great height. Any lower and the room would look squat, any higher and they’d look off with the built-ins.

Living room with a high, cathedral or vaulted ceiling, built ins, Sherwin Williams Antique White, wood floor.

Notice how all of your decorative attention is on the bottom 8 feet.


  • Love the tall plant in the corner.
  • Nothing is sitting on top of the built-ins.
  • The space is grounded with area rugs.
  • While the furniture is all relatively light-colored, it’s grounded with dark throws and cushions.
  • All of the furniture pieces have slightly higher backs – this is better than slightly lower.
  • Horizontal art above the fireplace.

Let’s look at the above room from another angle…

Sherwin Williams Antique White trim, Alabaster warm white walls, vaulted or cathedral ceiling, painted brick fireplace, cream cabinets built ins

A wood coffee table would anchor the center of the room and visually tie the side tables/wood accent chairs together.

Although the ceiling in this next living room isn’t overly high, this room has several features that add to the cozy factor…

Formail traditional family room living room, warm cream beige stone fireplace, Benjamin Moore Lenox Tan walls, wood floor, tv above fireplace mantel, vaulted ceiling

The Best Beige Paint Colors (With a Bit More DEPTH!)

Check out this next room on Pinterest (I’m not sending you to the actual website as it’s janky). Notice how the striped drapes keep the flow horizontal. And while I can’t tell what the heck those dark brown things are above the lower windows, you could get this effect with rattan blinds or other drapes.



TEXTURE is one of the most underrated and easy ways to make a room look cozy and inviting – especially when you have mad style like my client shown below…

Sherwin Williams Greek Villa on walls, Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace trim, built-ins, oak wood floor, living room furniture, home decor, accent colors.

I helped her choose colors for her kitchen cabinets and I can’t WAIT to see the results! 


  • There’s SO much texture in this room, just in the fabrics and soft furnishings alone.
  • The accessorizing on the built-ins is ON POINT! Notice how the decor adds color, character, and texture – keeping your eyes looooow.
  • The picture lights and drapery rod are in the same metal finish and create a great top line for your eye to stop at.
  • The top of the TV sits lower than the top of the built-ins – yay!
  • I love the scale of the furniture pieces – not too low, not too high – they suit the scale of the room.

This next foyer is great, with an eye-catching black front door and decor. Even the horizontal line of the upper stair railing draws a bit of a visual line (puts a quasi-cap on things)…

2 storey entryway or foyer, white walls, Sherwin Williams Pure White, black front door, wood stairs, sliding barn door. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour, virtual diy decorating ideas



Whether you have a kitchen, living room, or bedroom with a high ceiling, it’s important to ground your space – give it a low-lying anchor for your eyes to rest on.

Kitchen with peninsula, 2 color palette, White Dove uppers, Benjamin Antique Pewter lowers, stainless steel apppliances, white quartz, Maritime White beige on wall. Kylie m Ede

See the before and afters HERE


This next open-concept living space is well-grounded thanks to the dark wood-stained island, stools, and area rugs…

Open concept kitchen, living, dining room, great room. Sherwin Williams Collonade Gray walls, Alabaster kitchen cabinets. rattan bar stools and transitional home decor. Kylie M Interiors Ed - Copy

Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray

Let’s say the homeowner (which was previously me) wanted the ceiling to look lower…

  • They could take out the vertical range hood and install cabinets with an undermount hood.
  • Put knobs on the cabinet doors instead of vertical handles (which would require a repaint – this detail would be taken care of pre-install).
  • Replace the vertically-inclined marble backsplash tile with a horizontal pattern (i.e., traditional subway tile).
  • Add a wood beam to the center of the ceiling’s peak
  • Learn more budget-friendly KITCHEN UPDATE IDEAS!

How to Pick the Right Light Bulb KELVINS For Your Paint Colors



The lower your furniture is, the more compact and squat your space can look. Sure, we want to keep the attention on the lower portion of your room, but we don’t want it to look squished. For this reason, choosing pieces with slightly higher backs is a great way to take up a bit of that air space, and make the pieces look a bit more proportional to the vertical height of the room (all within reason, of course).

Back to this living room (below), while the drapes are too high for an intimate look, the scale of the sofas is great. I also love how the room is grounded with an area rug and dominant coffee table…

Benjamin Moore Navajo White in 2 storey tall ceiling living room with greige sofas and windows. South facing, southern exposure Kylie M E-design client before photo

The 13 Best Cream Paint Colors

In this next room, the goal WASN’T to make the ceiling look lower or cozier, which is why the low-profile leather sofa and loveseat make a lot of sense.

Contemporary open layout kitchen, living room, dining room. Modern tile fireplace dark wood floors. Gray painted walls Cambria Quartz countertop. Kylie M Interiors Decorating and Design Online

Paint Color Review of Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

This next space shows a great example of slightly oversized pieces to accommodate a tall ceiling. Of course, these chairs are a bit excessive, as per the style of the room (I mean, there IS a suit of armor). But overall, they add to the intimacy of the space, as does the paint color that wraps onto the ceiling.

mens room with high ceiling, beige Stone Hearth walls, wood mantle, marble, pool table, oak floor, home decor. Kylie M.

Also notice the chandelier, which as we’ll discuss next, goes with the shape of the ceiling quite nicely, rather than contrasting with it.

In this next living room, while the accent chairs are a bit low, the sofa has a reasonably tall presence that’s in proportion to the ceiling and its raised height…

Living room, stone fireplace, dark wood beams on ceiling, wood floor, Benjamin Moore Winds Breath match paint color on walls, south-facing



While you might think that a long, linear light fixture would do the trick (and sometimes it does), if you have a cathedral or angled ceiling, sometimes going WITH the shape of your ceiling softens its effect…

In this next dining room, notice how the muted metal and the shape of the fixture go with the ceiling shape rather than contrasting with it…

Dining room, beige tan carpet, Sherwin Williams Canvas Tan paint colour on walls. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

  • The soft warm color on these walls and striking burgundy leather dining chairs keep the energy lower
  • They didn’t paint the underside/ceiling areas trim color – the same color is on the walls and ceilings, blending the lines between the two.

Why does this make sense?

Wouldn’t hanging a vertical chandelier only encourage your eyes UP? Well, it can. However, there’s something to be said for going WITH the shape of your room, rather than CONTRASTING with it. Just as with paint colors, contrast often points out an obvious difference between two things. Picking up on similar lines and styles can create a more seamless, simple flow.

As shown in a previous dining room, the shape of the light fixtures mimics the general shape of the ceiling…

Open layout kitchen, Sherwin Williams Alabaster kitchen with marble herringbone backsplash and black pendant lighting over island. Rattan bar stools and textured area rugs. Kylie M Interiors

Entryway in Collonade Gray with inside of front door painted Urbane Bronze, vaulted ceiling. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint consulting

However, others find a long, horizontal fixture has them feeling a bit more grounded. They like the juxtaposition of these two elements playing off each other.

Remember, it’s about YOUR perception in YOUR home…

Sherwin Williams Collonade Gray, Benjamin Moore Gibraltar Cliffs. Rustic Dining table. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting - Copy

Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray & Benjamin Moore Gibraltar Cliffs


What Colors Should You Paint Your Ceiling? White, Medium, or DARK?

How to Turn Your HOUSE into Your HOME

The Best WHOLE HOME Gray & Greige Paint Colors



Kylie M Interiors, online paint color expert, consulding, edesign, Best Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams. Market (5)

Chat soon, 

Kylie M Interiors Edesign, signature, online paint colour consultant using Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams paint colours. DIY update advice ideas


  1. Thanks for another great post Kylie! Not only do you have the eye, but you are also so skilled at explaining which and why elements do or don’t work.

  2. Wow! Just when I thought I had all the decisions made in the decor of my nearly completed, custom built home, you had to go and make me start second guessing myself again LOL! Seriously, I really needed to read this. Our new family room has 20′ high ceilings and fireplace (this is what hubby wanted!). It feels almost intimidating to me, and it definitely needs something to make it feel cozier and bring it down to earth. I love the idea of adding trim to the wall to break up it up, and some wood beams that echo the wood on the mantel would help in huge way! Thanks for such great advice!

  3. This is a VERY helpful post. I have a two-story livingroom with curved windows AND a corner fireplace. So many design delimmas. I hope this will sign me up for your blog …

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More Posts

Meet Kylie

Thank you for visiting!  I'm so glad you're here!  Come on in to learn a little more about me!